October 13th Disaster Risk Reduction Day

 

The day which was formerly observed on the second Wednesday in October has now been changed to the 13th day of October instead.  

According to National Disaster Coordinator (NDC), Carl Herbert, the activity is still intended to promote a global culture of natural disaster risk reduction and celebratory plans, through the promotion of actions that reduce socio-economic vulnerabilities to disaster, while addressing the environmental and other hazards that trigger them, remain ongoing.

“The theme this year is Making Youth Partners for Disaster Risk Reduction”… which underscores the importance of redefining our disaster management approach, to embrace contributions from children through partnerships that can be forged with them”, Mr. Herbert said.

In Geneva this year, three youths explained why children needed to be protected from disasters, to more than 2,600 experts gathered there for the Third Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. The team comprising two 14 year olds from the Philippines, and a 17 year old Kenyan youth, participated in the Platform before a packed house of government and community leaders from around the world.

At this Global Platform, the largest ever held, the interests of children, were put on the front burner by the three young presenters, who were selected to participate by their communities, because of their keen interest in risk reduction.  As part of their combined presentation, a new five-point Children’s Charter, which they asked participants to support, was launched. It states the following:

  1. Schools must be safe and education must be uninterrupted;
  2. Child protection must be a priority, before, during and after a disaster;
  3. Children have the right to participate and to access the information they need;
    1. Community infrastructure must be safe, and relief and reconstruction must help reduce future risk; and
  4. Disaster risk reduction must reach the most vulnerable through a systematic approach to      identifying, assessing and reducing the risks of hazards.

The Children’s Charter is based on feedback from more than 600 children from over twenty countries. Participants identified education, child protection and access to basic information, as the main needs to reduce the devastating impact of disasters and climate change upon their families and communities.

This is the second year that NEMA on St. Kitts and Nevis Disaster Management Department on Nevis, have combined efforts to promote a cultural shift in disaster management practices, through public awareness exercises, as a means of sustainable development and survival. Last year activities included a broadcast by Sam Condor, Deputy Prime Minister with responsibility for NEMA, a Districts food fair and media presentations primarily by the NDC.

“This year,” the NDC has stated, “we have revisited the activities in an effort to make the process more meaningful and goal oriented.”

Along with the traditional broadcast by Deputy-Prime Minister Condor, this year’s programme will comprise an earthquake readiness campaign, through which public service announcements will be launched via the media. This campaign is made possible through support and sponsorship from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Australian Government (AusAID), respectively. Earlier this year, the programme gained momentum following an interview with Seismologist Dr. Joan Latchman, from the University of the West Indies Seismic Unit which was aired on ZIZ TV.

Dr. Latchman’s visit came about as an outcome of a multi-sectoral workshop, with a mandate to draft an Earthquake Contingency Plan for St. Kitts and Nevis. The plan intends to minimize the loss of life and damage to property and the environment through effective response and recovery from the impacts of earthquakes and tsunamis.

In keeping with the theme for this year’s commemoration, (Making Youth Partners for Disaster Risk Reduction…), the programme was altered to encourage the involvement of the youth. Accordingly, a collaboration between the Ministry of Education and NEMA, led to the development of a paper on Disaster Risk Reduction, which is intended to be read during the October 13th assembly period at all schools.

NDC Herbert spoke to the timeliness of the process, based on the recent spate of seismic activity that has been occurring throughout the world. He has said that the effective response to any impact is determined by the level of preparedness of communities. “It is therefore essential that residents are educated about the hazards to which we are vulnerable, trained to respond to them, and that the process be attuned to include contributions from young people,” he said.

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